This post continues revealing new features in Phase 21. Read Part 1 if you haven’t.
Real-time games get a clock!
Another addition in Phase 21 is a timer that counts down in the top-right corner of the screen:
The timer counts down to the boot time configured for the game, so it’s always clear how much time you have before you risk being booted. The timer will continue to run even after submitting your orders, that way you know if you have enough time to re-do them if you notice a mistake.
While the clock is a small addition, just increasing awareness of the boot timer should go a long ways towards reducing the number of times players are booted unexpectedly.
Phase 21 will bring the addition of the blockade card, which you can think of as a less effective abandon card. The blockade card works much like the abandon card, except the blockade card happens at the end of your turn instead of the beginning. This means any attacks, airlifts, or other actions happen before the territory changes into a neutral and increases its armies.
The advantage of using the blockade card in lieu of the abandon card in your games means that, on offense, you won’t have to worry about your large stacks getting devastated. Since the blockades happen after attacks, your offensive stacks can freely move around without hitting any unexpected neutrals.
The blockade card is great for people who like the abandon card’s ability to block off pathways around the map, but don’t like the abandon card’s ability to decimate opposing armies. Since the latter strategy is so powerful, it means that in some cases, abandon cards would mostly be used as a way to take armies away from your opponent by abandoning the spot they were about to attack. This meant that there were few abandon cards left over to create blockades.
The blockade card is a little more difficult to use than the abandon card. When playing a blockade card, it’s very important to ensure you still own the territory you’re blockading at the end of your turn. If you lose the territory you played the card on, the card will have no effect and you don’t get the card back. Therefore, it’s recommended that you play this on territories that you know you won’t lose, such as those that don’t touch an opponent or that are sufficiently defended.
Even though Phase 21 is mostly about open games, the blockade card was thrown in since it was fairly easy to add. It should be a great addition, and I think it’s far better suited for 1 v 1 matches than the abandon card is. In a 1 v 1 match, the ability to take your opponents armies away with a well-predicted abandon is extremely powerful. This puts a lot of emphasis on predicting where your opponent will attack, which I don’t like. I’m going to make a big 1 v 1 tournament using the blockade card to test this out – post a reply if you’d like to be invited.
Wrapping up the last big feature of Phase 21 is automatic games. This is an experimental feature designed to help new players have fun with multi-player right off the bat. WarLight will automatically create games made up of open seats, and ensure new ones are created whenever the existing ones fill up. This means there will always be a game available for new players to join.
This also demonstrates part of the reason why the Open Games tab was created (covered in part 1). Since there will always be at least one open game, it doesn’t make sense to advertise them on the top of the My Games tab like they were before.
For the initial release, there will only be three automatic games. These were picked to give the feature the best chance of success – if these work out well, more may be created in future releases. If they don’t work out well, they may be removed.
Two of them are Strategic 1 v 1 games – one real-time, and one multi-day. 1 v 1 games should work well for automatic games since they’ll fill up and start fast and collusion isn’t possible. The third is a multi-day newbie game, which uses open seat prerequisites to ensure that only new players can join. Since veterans are kept out, the skill level should be more appropriate, helping new players to ween themselves onto multi-player.